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Israel is taking in injured Syrian refugees from Aleppo

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says country is responding to 'the tragedy of terrible suffering of civilians'

Benjamin Kentish
Wednesday 21 December 2016 23:08 GMT
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Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel wanted to do more to help Syrian refugees
Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel wanted to do more to help Syrian refugees (AP)

Israel is to take in injured refugees from Aleppo and arrange for them to be treated in the country’s hospitals, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced.

Evacuation efforts are underway in the devastated Syrian city after a ceasefire was agreed to allow civilians to leave, but thousands are injured and the city’s hospitals have been destroyed after relentless fighting and air strikes by Syrian and Russian forces.

Israel shares a long border with Syria and has already treated thousands of civilians and rebel fighters in its hospitals. Most return to Syria after their treatment.

Mr Netanyahu said Israel is looking at how it could help bring more refugees from Aleppo to Israeli hospitals for treatment.

He told reporters: “We're prepared to take in wounded women and children, and also men if they are not combatants.

“We see the tragedy of terrible suffering of civilians and I’ve asked the Foreign Ministry to seek ways to expand our medical assistance to the civilian causalities of the Syrian tragedy, specifically in Aleppo where we’re prepared to take in wounded women and children, and also men if they’re not combatants.

"We’d like to do that: bring them to Israel, take care of them in our hospitals as we’ve done with thousands of Syrian civilians. We’re looking into ways of doing this; it’s being explored as we speak."

The director of one hospital that has been treating Syrians said his staff had helped over 2,500 civilians and fighters since February 2013.

Dr. Salman Zarka, director of the Ziv Medical Center in the city of Safed, said he was “proud “ to have provided thousands of Syrians “with assistance”, reported Haaretz.

"Despite hostilities between Israel and Syria, there is a need to help Syrians for medical assistance,”, he added.

An international operation to evacuate civilians and rebel fighters from Aleppo has seen 25,000 people flee the city in the last few days, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

At least 460 civilians have been killed in Aleppo in the last month alone, while the UN estimates 400,000 people have died in the civil war as a whole since fighting began in March 2011.

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